‘Saakhar Bhaat’ literally means Sugar Rice! As you can guess, it is a sweet dish made with rice as its main ingredient. It is a traditional Maharashtrian dessert that is prepared on festive occasions.
This year on Dassehra, I chose to make Saakhar Bhaat and got this hand-down recipe from Mum. Dassehra is a Hindu festival that marks the victory of Sri Rama over Ravana and also Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. It is considered one of the auspicious days to buy new things or start a new venture. As for me, my venture was in the kitchen, so went ahead for a recipe that I had never attempted before.
Even though it is rice, I would like to stress that it is a dessert. It is quite rich with ghee and sugar, so be mindful while you gorge on this decadent dessert. Without further ado, lets dive into the recipe.
1 cup rice (I prefer Basmati rice)
2 cups plain water
1.5 cup sugar
2 tbsp + 1 tsp ghee
Small piece cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
Few strands of saffron
3 green cardamom pods
Pinch of salt
Orange food colour – optional
Wash and soak the rice for 15 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
Blanch almonds : Soak the almonds in hot water (covered) for 10-15 minutes. The skin will soften and will easily come off. Sliver the almonds and halve some for garnish.
Take 2 tbsp hot water and let the saffron strands infuse in it. That way we can get maximum flavour and colour from the beautiful saffron.
Open the cardamom pods and crush the seeds to a powder.
In a pan, add 2 tbsp of ghee and once heated through, add the cloves and cinnamon.
Next, fry the rice in the ghee for couple of minutes. (I ♥ this aroma!)
Add water and a pinch of salt. Mix through. Cover and cook on low flame till the rice is cooked and all the water is absorbed.
Once the rice grains have softened, add the sugar, raisins, slivered almonds, cardamom, saffron and food colour if using. Mix well.
You will notice, after adding sugar, it releases moisture. Cook covered on low till the dampness is completely absorbed. This takes around 10 minutes, depending on the quantity.
Lastly, garnish with the 1 tsp of ghee and halved almonds.
Gajar ka Halwa rings a bell in every Indian’s mind, rather taste buds. I haven’t come across any person whose favourite dessert list doesn’t feature Gajar ka Halwa.
For me, the memories of this lovely dessert go to the not-so-cold winters in Mumbai. My sister and I use to help Mom peel and grate the carrots, and then wait patiently for the bowl of the warm, orange, winter-dessert.
The traditional method is a lengthy one and requires a lot of patience, the very thing I do not possess. So I have 2 quick versions. Also, in Australia, I do not have access to fancy things like khoya (cheesy reduced milk) as a thickener; for me, milk powder does the thing.
Grated carrots – 2 cups
Ghee (clarified butter) – 1 tbsp
Sweetened condensed milk – 1/2 cup
Milk – 1 cup
Milk powder – 1/4 cup, adjust quantity as required
Sugar – if required
Powdered elaichi (green cardamom)- 1 tsp
Raisins, almonds, pistachios, cashews – as per choice
This can be done in either the microwave or the pressure cooker. Both the methods will be time-saving and you can reduce the amount of ghee (or leave it out), or use low-fat milk to make a low-calorie halwa.
Take a thick-bottomed, glass bowl, with lid. Add ghee and roast the raisins and nuts on HIGH for a minute. (Skip this step if you are leaving the ghee out)
Remove the nuts from bowl and keep aside. Now add the carrots, condensed milk, and milk. Cook COVERED for 10-12 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
Continue cooking until the carrots have softened and almost cooked through. As every microwave differs, cooking times would vary.
Once carrots have cooked, adjust the consistency with milk powder, adding a spoonful at a time, till the desired thickness is reached.
Add sugar if you want it sweeter (not quite necessary though).
Mix in the elaichi powder and garnish with the fried raisins and nuts.
Pressure cooker method
Follow the same steps. Just add the carrot, milk and condensed milk to a pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles. (Ensure that the carrot is covered with the milk, adjust quantity accordingly)
Let the pressure drop gradually. Once the lid opens, keep on low simmer and adjust thickness with milk powder.
Enhance with elaichi powder and garnish.
Now the only thing left to do is devour!
I am sure you will be buying carrots on your next trip to the market to try this quick version of gajar ka halwa. If you do, be sure to write me a line how it went. Follow me for more such short-cut recipes and share on social.